Babylon meets banks on possible $20m Nasdaq IPO

Acting CEO Dovik Peer: “We have had serious discussions about this but there are no immediate plans.”

Companies moving tens or hundreds of millions of dollars are not the only ones finding their way to Nasdaq. Small companies are also now managing to reach the markets, among them several from Israel. Since 2004 we have seen several small companies issue on Nasdaq, among them Answers Corporation (NasdaqNM:ANSW), which raised $11 million and IncrediMail Ltd. (Nasdaq:MAIL), which recently raised $22 million. Sources inform ''Globes'' that the next company to attempt to raise a similar amount of finance on Nasdaq will be Babylon.

The company recently met with six investment houses, four of them American and two Israeli, to discuss the possibility of a public financing round. The US banks have offered to raise $20 million while the Israeli banks have mentioned a sum of $6-$10 million which will be raised on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). Babylon, which offers translation software, currency and measurement conversion, and access to knowledge bases at the click of one button, has not yet reached a decision regarding the possible float. Considering that plans for the float are still at the preliminary stage, it is not expected to get underway before the end of 2006.

Babylon has estimated annual revenue of $10 million, and has so far raised $16 million. Its principal shareholders are Reed Elsevier Ventures, the venture arm of publisher Reed Elsevier; Formula Vision Technologies (TASE: FVT); The Monitin Group (which is also the controlling shareholder in “Globes”) and company founder Amnon Ovadia. The company also has several smaller shareholders among them RAD Data Communications president Zohar Zisapel, M-Systems president Dov Moran, Aladdin Knowledge Systems president Yanki Margalit, Pitango Venture Capital managing general partner and co-founder Nechemia (Chemi) J. Peres, and Magic Software Enterprises and Mashov Computers co-founder David Assia.

Babylon acting CEO Dovik Peer said, “We have met with a number of bankers from Israel and abroad to discuss the possibility of a float. We listened to what they had to say and we’re now discussing among ourselves whether this would be the right time to make this move or whether it is still too soon, despite our continuing expansion. It is the bankers’ job to advise companies about such matters and it is now up to us to consider the option of a float. The bankers we talked to mooted the possibility of floating this year but our discussions are still at the preliminary stage. This is not an immediate option for us at present.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on March 9, 2006

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